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The Story of Success

No doubt by now if you’re looking to master a skill or learn something new, you’ve heard…

Team Lead
Team Lead

1st January, 2023

No doubt by now if you’re looking to master a skill or learn something new, you’ve heard of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Rule.


Made popular by Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The Story of Success, the principle states that in order to become world class in any field, you need 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.

This means 417 days’ worth of hours or 3 hours a day for 3,333 days – a little over 9 years.

But what if you don’t have the time? What if the 10,000 hours you need could be shortened to a simple20 hours?

This is entirely possible, according to best seller Josh Kaufman, author of, The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything Fast and The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business.

When learning curves are sloped and you don’t have all the time in the world, here’s what you can do to streamline the learning process.

  1. Break it down

No matter how lofty a goal or skill is, it’s important to break it down into pieces you can actually manage. Figure out which tools and skills you need behind each step, then get going.

  1. Learn how to correct yourself

“Get three to five resources about what it is you’re trying to learn,” says Kaufman. “It could be books, it could be DVDs, it could be anything, but don’t use those as a way to procrastinate.”

Kaufman is simply suggesting you jump in and learn – and learn enough to know when you need to improve on something.

  1. Remove distractions

What are you letting get in the way of you work? Can you use willpower to remove what’s preventing you from moving forward?

In a TEDxPenn talk, behavioural scientist Katherine Milkman discusses “temptation bundling”, a technique where you pair something you’re trying to get yourself to do with an action you know you already enjoy.

While you tackle learning a new skill or hobby, avoid distracting things like your phone or even your work email and instead put more enjoyment into the process.

  1. Make a commitment

There will always be a time at the start of every learning journey where you will become frustrated at how incompetent you are. Despite these feelings, stick it out.

Feeling stupid is a real barrier to progress, but, as Kaufman assures, by “pre-committing to practicing whatever it is that you want to do for at least 20 hours, you will be able to overcome that initial frustration barrier and stick with the practice long enough to actually reap the rewards”.

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